Theater Around the Bay: Call for Script Submissions for Pint-Sized Plays 2016

San Francisco Theater Pub is pleased to announce that our popular PINT-SIZED PLAYS festival will be returning for a sixth year and that we are now accepting script submissions from Bay Area playwrights!

PINT-SIZED PLAYS is an evening of short plays that take place in a bar and involve people drinking beer. The 2016 PINT-SIZED PLAYS will be performed August 22nd, 23rd, 29th, and 30th at PianoFight in downtown San Francisco.

The Rules:

* Plays must be no longer than the time it takes to finish a beer. This means plays may be as short as a few seconds, but no longer than eight pages.

* Plays can have a maximum cast size of three actors.

* At least one of the characters in the play must be drinking a beer during the scene, and the play must end when a character finishes their beer.

* Plays must take place in a bar. This is for both thematic and logistical purposes as the plays will be performed in the bar space of PianoFight, and the only set pieces/props we can 100% guarantee are tables, chairs, and beers.

* Plays must respect the bar space. PianoFight is incredibly supportive of our festival, but in return, we need to be worthy of their trust. Don’t demand that actors do anything in your play that you wouldn’t do in a bar yourself (with some degree of sobriety).

* Submissions should be emailed to theaterpub@atmostheatre.com, with the subject line “Last Name, First Name – Pint-Sized 2016 Submission.” Attach the script to the email as a PDF or Word document. All scripts should include playwright’s name and contact information.

* Submission deadline is 11:59 PM Pacific time, Sunday, May 15th, 2016.

Selected plays will be announced in June 2016.

The Suggestions:

*We encourage: plays that can be cast flexibly (with actors of any age, race, or gender); plays with good roles for women; plays that have fun with style, language, or genre.

* We discourage: plays that promote stereotypes or clichés; plays that have been previously produced; plays hastily rewritten to fit our parameters.

The Legalese:

* Open to residents of the following counties ONLY: San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Joaquin. You must be able and willing to prove your residence and identity upon request.

* There is no fee to submit a play for consideration in Pint-Sized.

* Selected playwrights will receive a small stipend and the opportunity to have their play produced by San Francisco Theater Pub for four performances in August.

* San Francisco Theater Pub will handle all production responsibilities for the selected plays. We reserve the right to choose a director and actors for each play as we see fit.

* The submitted plays, whether chosen for production or not, remain the intellectual property of their authors. San Francisco Theater Pub makes no claim to these scripts and will not cut, edit, or otherwise change the playwright’s dialogue without the writer’s expressed permission.

* If you have additional questions, please email theaterpub@atmostheatre.com.

We look forward to reading your submissions!

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Cowan Palace: I’m Not Here To Be Pretty

You read the title, Ashley Cowan’s not here to be pretty. But she’s always here to make friends!

Last Saturday night, I celebrated my first Opening Night in two and a half years. At the party afterwards, I ate a truly alarming amount of chocolate snacks, drank a modest amount of champagne, and hugged everyone as long as they would let me. The route to this production wasn’t an easy one and I was just so happy to have survived it. A wedding, a baby, moving into three separate homes, thousands of miles traveled, balancing new jobs and seemingly endless responsibilities, nightly rehearsals, and a partridge in a pear tree? Yeah, gimme dat chocolate, please.

Earlier in the evening, the cast had come together in a quiet huddle. I teared up when one of my castmates asked us to take a moment to appreciate how hard we had worked to get to this moment and to reflect why we got into theatre in the first place. We then continued our warm up with each stating an intention we hoped to focus on during the show. My word was “grateful” and I meant it wholeheartedly.

Which is why I couldn’t help but laugh when a few folks reached out to me these past few days as if to offer their condolences for playing another series of characters that weren’t created to be “pretty”.

This isn’t something new for me. In high school and college I almost always played roles meant for older women. And with that, came costumes that were notoriously unflattering. My friends would come see my show and compliment my performance but couldn’t resist telling me that my costume made me look fifty pounds heavier than I am in “real life”. At one point, someone actually asked me what I had done to our costume designer to make them hate me so much. But I kept auditioning and celebrating whenever I’d get cast. And honestly, somewhere in applying yet another round of old age makeup, maybe I got some slightly thicker skin because I just didn’t really care that much about how I looked when I was playing someone else.

Even when in the middle of a show dressed as an awkward bridesmaid an audience member grabbed me and told me I was “brave” for publicly wearing such an ill-fitting dress because she would never, ever leave the house in my position. Or when I’d hear from someone that the color I was in really washed me out and made my hair look flat. And even after the latest round of jokes and sympathy nods were sent my way after some production shots were shared online, I smiled and moved on.

Costume Someecard

As I’ve written maaaaaany times before, I’m suuuuuuuuper sensitive and I’m still desperately working through some body issues (BUT, WHO ISN’T?!?!). Now, add on doing a full length show in my post baby body, which I gotta tell you, is still taking some getting used to as I’m still not quite comfortable in it, and I’ll admit – I was worried that thicker skin may have washed off in one of my rare showers.

Maybe it was working with costume designers that truly made me feel so comfortable in what can sometimes be an awkward situation (trying on different clothes and having people search for flaws) but when I got my new clothing pieces, I was actually pretty jazzed. Yes, some of the items may seem a little ridiculous but they’re true to the character and I find them to be fittingly hilarious. So, yeah, I couldn’t help but chuckle and roll my eyes when that handful of people mentioned my latest appearance in comparison to my “real life” self.

Firstly, LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL hahahahahaha. My real life self just picked food and old toothpaste from my hair before walking into work today and throwing it in a messy bun. (Also, please keep in mind, I haven’t had breakfast yet so who knows where that food came from.) Big spoiler alert, me in “real life” is not pretty all the time! Sure, TMZ hasn’t published a series of gross pictures of me yet but I promise it’s true. So why in the world would my characters need to look attractive and pretty all of the time? That sounds terribly boring.

Look, I know that I don’t look “good” in everything I wear. I know my face can make some rather intense expressions that may not be described as “conventionally beautiful” and sometimes examples of these things live online forever. But I also know that I actively chose to keep fighting for the roles that allow me those opportunities. I don’t do it to be pretty. This is theatre, not a Bachelor rose ceremony (though, that’s a beautiful art piece of its own…).

One of the best compliments I ever received was from one of my past castmates who was helping me step into the role of Tina (from TNT) for the first time. At the time, they didn’t have a dress that fit me well so I had to wear one that was too wide and too short for my body. It also had sleeves (that ended halfway down my arms) and was full of bedazzled glory. She was watching me try and put on a ponytail of ridiculous fake hair on top of my already highly teased and hairsprayed look when she simply stated, “You’re not afraid to get ugly. You embrace it. I like that.” That comment has proudly stayed with me these past six years. Because what it meant to me was, just being truthful to the role/production/opportunity was the important thing. Not dressing up in an attempt to be thought of as beautiful.

Ugly Wedding Dress

Don’t get me wrong, I still hope you all think I’m super, babealiciously hot when I’m me in “real life”. But you don’t have to feel bad for me when you think I look dorky or less than pretty in my costume. Because I’m so, so grateful to be wearing it! I want to keep being involved in the good, the bad, and the ugly because it means I’m still involved and doing something I truly love to do! So until tomorrow when I get my costume back on, I’ll be focusing on the important stuff like managing my chocolate addiction.

Come see Ashley in Custom Made Theatre’s Middletown, running now until April 23!

Working Title: The Space Between Middletown and Transcendence

This week Will Leschber talks Custom Made Theater’s Middletown and all the things in between…

How often do we find ourselves in the middle? In between two points in our lives; in between birthdays; in between doing what we want to do and what we have to do to pay the bills; in between this step and the next; the first step and the last. It seems you could say that about every boring mundane transitional moment of our lives. Our life is the middle. Our days are the Oreo filling of our lives.

oreo-art-Edvard-Munch-The-Scream

Will Eno’s award winning play Middletown, which recently opened at Custom Made Theater, concerns itself with the stuff in between: the unremarkable; the quiet moments of insignificance that add up to a lifetime; life as it’s unexpectedly cut short; life as it opens anew; life as seen from the distant view of the stars. In all the stories, in all the towns, in all of time, is anyone different or special? Or are we all special just like everyone else?

Middletown

I wanted to discuss the odd headspace that Middletown exists in with someone who was a bit more familiar with the show. At times the play feels like it moves in the ether between manifest divinity, exuberant mundanity, boring miraculousness and everyday normality. What film or other entertainment entity could possibly get me in this same headspace?!

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only Mandatory Credit: Photo by Everett Collection / Rex Features ( 716635a ) 'Wings of Desire', (aka 'Der Himmel Uber Berlin'), Bruno Ganz 'Wings of Desire' film - 1987


Everett Collection / Rex Features ( 716635a )
Bruno Ganz in Wings of Desire (Der Himmel Uber Berlin), 1987

I had the pleasure of speaking to Bay Area actress, Jean Forsman, after seeing her perfectly cast performance as the town librarian in Custom Made Theatre’s current production of Middletown. Librarians are the gatekeepers to the bound ages of knowledge. So I figured, I’d pick her brain about the perfect film pairing to prepare you for the mindset of Middletown living. Here’s what she had to say:

“In consideration of your question, I keep coming back to Wim Winders’ Wings of Desire. The angels moving throughout the earth, detached from earth, are able to observe us with clarity and compassion and delight in our humanity (watching someone lower her umbrella to feel the rain on her face). Like the astronaut in Middletown, the Angel appreciates the miracle of existence once he is detached from our atmosphere and chooses to live with us, warts and all.”

A classic of World cinema, the 1987 film makes a perfect match for Middletown.

A classic of World cinema, the 1987 film makes a perfect match for Middletown.

Living just on the outside, in the middle between one significant place and another, our slanted perspective may just turn the light of mundane life bright enough so we can peek at the wonder floating around us all the time. The point is not to arrive at a place where you only see the awe-inspiring miracles that pervade our lives. Maybe the point is to take a moment every once in awhile to reflect on the touches of transcendence, and when that moment is felt fully and passed, to then continue moving forward down the great current with everyone else. We are the river and you can never step in the same point of a river twice.

Wings of desire life pic

See Middletown. Spend some time with yourself and everyone else. It runs until it ends…April 23, unless it extends…life has a way of extending.

In For a Penny: Whose Job are You?

Charles Lewis III, finding his place.

empty theatre

“No man likes to acknowledge that he has made a mistake in his choice of profession, and every man, worthy of the name, will row long against wind and tide before he allows himself to cry out ‘I am baffled!’ and submits to be floated passively back to land.”
– Charlotte Brontë, The Professor

I had a job interview last week. It was your usual fare: questions about past experience; asking what I’d bring to the position; explanation of where the company is headed – I’m sure you’ve all been through it. What was different for me was that it was the first interview in which my theatre work was brought into focus. Usually when I mention it, it’s in response to questions about what I do outside of work. Saying that I do theatre often results in blank stares, condescending raised eyebrows, and the occasional question of “Have you ever done any real acting?”

My theatre experience wasn’t just a random topic of last week’s interview, it was central. It was the subject on which we spoke for the entirety of my time in the building. It was the first time in my life in which I had the opportunity to possibly do the one thing that I’ve often thought wasn’t possible: turn my love of theatre into a full-time job.

There’d just be one catch: I wouldn’t be as active in theatre as I am now.

It wasn’t just a question of time consumption – although that would have played a role – but it was the fact that I wouldn’t have been able to see the Bay Area theatre scene from the inside-out anymore. I’d be in a position that would have fundamentally changed my role in the “ecosystem” of the local theatre community. I’ve seen that community from almost every possible angle – actor, writer, director, stage manager, tech, box office manager, company member, auditor, set construction – and that includes the past work I’ve done that directly related to the new position. The difference is that this would permanently place me into a role I’d probably enjoy, but make it nearly impossible to do the theatre work I’ve come to love.

I walked out of the interview the same way I walked in: knowing that there are certain opportunities that only present themselves once, if ever. What makes those opportunities so unique isn’t just what you hope to gain from them, but also what you’d have to give up in order to do so. “Nothing important is ever easy,” as they say. When I finally got home after the interview – and an evening rehearsal – I came to the decision that if this opportunity was mine for the taking, then I’d go after it head-on and have no regrets about doing so.

Of course, the point of someone interviewing for a job is that the decision isn’t in their hands to begin with.

On Monday I got an e-mail from my interviewer. I didn’t get the position. I replied telling him how grateful I was to have interviewed that I hoped he’d contact me immediately if anything changed. I was disappointed that I wasn’t hired for a great job, but I was also relieved that I wouldn’t have to make such a major change in my theatre life. I’ve spent the majority of entries in this column pondering my position in the world of theatre, both in the Bay Area and beyond. I do this because each day I’m more certain of it than I was the day before.

The evening after I received that e-mail, I went to rehearsal for the full production for which I’m rehearsing. The day before, I’d rehearsed my role in a play for this week’s ShortLived (a play written by fellow ‘Pub columnist Anthony Miller and directed Colin Johnson, who’s writing and directing the ‘Pub show for May). The day before that, I saw the earlier round of ShortLived. I have a few auditions coming up and I’m making a schedule to finally start writing plays I’ve had on the back burner for quite some time now. That’s my place in our theatre “ecosystem,” and I kinda like it here.

I first named this column “In For a Penny” because I’m someone who will fully dedicate himself to something once he’s committed. Right now, that’s being an active theatre artist. Soon it might be taking a different role. Whatever it is, you can’t say I didn’t give it my all.

To observe Charles Lewis III in the aforementioned “ecosystem,” see him tonight and all this weekend in Round 4 of ShortLived at PianoFight. It also stars fellow ‘Pub members Sam Bertken & Andrew Chung and is biting commentary of contemporary SF. Give us the votes! All the votes!!!

Everything Is Already Something: Realistic TBA Conference Panel Ideas

Allison Page is clearly looking forward to the TBA conference on Monday.

Berkeley Frappe: Which Theatre Companies Have The Best Snacks

We Hired Only Local Actors for One Year & Our Theater Didn’t Burn to the Ground

The Sarah Rule: How to Produce Plays by Women (But Only if They’re Written by Sarah Ruhl)

How to Take a Selfie Good Enough to Use as a Headshot for Twelve Years

Getting Cast as a Woman Over 40 Without Playing Someone’s Stepmother

Set Designs You Can Repurpose Until They Collapse During a Performance of Man of La Mancha

Faces to Make During Board Meetings When You Want to Perish But Cannot

Audition Waist Trainers: A Roundtable Discussion

Creative Ways to Swear in Front of the Kid Playing Oliver Twist When Nancy Forgets Her Line Again

Pros & Cons: Pretending to be a Man to Get Ahead as an Actor

Fight Choreographers Wrestling Each Other for 90 Minutes

Improvising a Monologue Because You’re Too Lazy to Memorize Even One More Thing, Please God, Please

How to Watch ‘The Bachelor’ During Rehearsal Without the SM Noticing

Do Blondes Really Have More Fun (Playing Girlfriends of the Protagonist)?

Group Nap

Playwright Complaint Circle

Moving From San Francisco to New York to Get Cast in San Francisco

Producing David Mamet Over & Over & Over Again, A Guide

Stage Managing a Show You Hate with People You Hate

How to Perform on a Stage 400 Times Smaller Than This One:

Empty Theater Stage

Empty Theater Stage — Image by © Chase Swift/CORBIS

Showmances: How to End Them…Maybe, But Probably Not

How to Use a Toaster as a Light Board After Yours Gets Stolen for the 9th Time

Payment Negotiation for Actors: Get Two Beers Instead of One for a Three Year Run

Shakespeare for Dummies: Can You Get an Actual Dummy to Replace an Actor in Midsummer Night’s Dream to Save Cash? Yes, You Can.

5 Sexiest Theatre Companies Shut Down This Year Due to Lack of Funding, Hear From the Weeping Artistic Directors Themselves!

Getting Board Members to Stop Asking if You Can Tap Into the Popularity of ‘The Walking Dead’

Can You Get Away With Casting This White Male as Tiger Lily? (THIS IS A TEST)

Stage Manager & Director Speed Dating: Watch 45 Directors Fight Over 3 SMs

Costume Designing on a $6 Budget

Are You Ready to Set Every Show in the Apocalypse?

Allison Page is a writer/actor/director in San Francisco. She’ll be looking for snacks at the TBA Conference and live tweeting it all @allisonlynnpage.

The Five: Bruuuce

Anthony R. Miller checks in with tales of The Boss.

Hey you guys, It’s been a pretty crazy week or so. We just wrapped up TERROR-RAMA auditions, which went incredibly well. My play, “We Were Acting Like We Owned The Place Before It was Cool” will be in week 4 of ShortLived. Daredevil Season 2 is friggin great. And the basement at PianoFight is actually this really fun intersection of Bay Area theatre where at any given time, there are people rehearsing, auditioning, or running around in pasties. It’s a magical Place. But Last Sunday I got to go with my Dad to see Bruce Springsteen perform at Oracle Arena. I have many feelings, coincidentally, there are five.

Really? “The River?”

The Concert was billed as a full performance of “The River” with some greatest hits. Now, for those that don’t own every Springsteen record ever made, The River is a decidedly Pop record, the themes are bigger and broader. But I would hesitate to put it in the Pantheon of his greatest work. I mean, that’s just me. It’s not his most famous record, he never claimed it to be his favorite, but it does have a few of his bigger hits like “Hungry Heart”, “Prove It All Night” and of course the sad-ass but kinda beautiful in its melancholy story telling, “The River”. Why he decided to tour this record in its entirety, I do not know. Maybe it was just an excuse to tour, which works for me. Bruce Springsteen is one of the greatest live performers in the history of music, so if he’s doing a concert, you should just go.

Best Bachelorette Party Ever

All sorts of people like Bruce, he’s universal dangit. One of my favorite things to do at concerts is look at other people reacting to the show, observing their experience and connection to the music. On this night a big group of women were sitting in front of us that were obviously part of a bachelorette party. NowI have to assume the Bride to be was a huge fan, I mean why else would someone celebrate their last moments of single-ness at a Springsteen concert. Now the fact that they were at this concert was reason enough for me to assume they were roughly my age (cough cough, mid to late thirties cough cough) Another dead giveaway was at the beginning of the concert they were driknig, dancing and rocking out out. But as the concert progresses, they slowly sat down, danced every now and then, and one of them was actually asleep by the end. But not the Bride people, the Bride was there to get the eff down. She never sat down, not once. She was dressed in a tiara and a black shirt with “Bride” bedazzled on the front.The was not a moment when she wasn’t pressed against the rail with a beer in one hand and the other hand waving in the air. She never every word to every song and for all intents and purposes, there was nobody else there, it was just her and Bruce. I can only speculate what the show meant to her. “The River” has a lot of coming of age songs. So maybe for her that night was saying goodbye to her old life, preparing to move on to a new era. At this point, she is assumedly married, so congrats to her, here’s to hoping the wedding reception featuring lots of dancing to “Tenth Avenue Free-Out”

We Should All Strive To Be This Awesome At Age 65

At Age 65, Springsteen played a three hour set, featuring “The River” and then another hour and fifteen minutes of greatest hits. This guy has unmatched energy, he’s a friggin powerhouse. There is something so joyful and rewarding about watching this guy perform. Maybe it’s because you get to watch someone who is truly doing the thing that makes him happiest. It’s the kind of joy you only get in sharing something that is special to you with thousands of people who feel the same way. But man, at age 65, Bruce puts most 30 year olds to shame. It’s unreal.

The Religious Experience That is “Thunder Road”

Fun Fact, since I was 14 “Thunder Road” has been one of my favorite songs ever. It’s just a perfect friggin song. The lyrics are expressive and descriptive without being super literal. It’s a musical adventure making the most boring and mundane life sound epic. It’s about how any moment of our lives can feel epic and important, fueled by the importance of now, the desire to leave to move on, to be able to accept you won’t be what you thought you’d be, but there is always possibility in this life. So on this night, I finally saw this song performed live. And as those first few notes of piano and harmonica start wafting through the arena, the song feels new, like I’ve never heard it before, but I still know every word. It’s exactly the experience we hope for when we something live. That you are so captivated by what you’re watching, you can’t think of anything else. The only thing that matters is the words you are hearing, and the person saying them. It was like seeing a monument, or going to Paris or something. It’s not until the climaxes in a storm of piano, guitar, and saxophone that I realize this something I always wanted to see. And in a small way, my life is different, because of that experience. The experience that is everything you hoped it would be, this is what I imagined hearing this song live would be. In this moment, I am being rewarded for loving this song.

Growin’ Up

So, as I rocket into middle age, I’ve been contemplating the nature of getting older. It’s not easy for everybody, the world we know changes at a crazy pace in your thirties. Priorities change, people move, get married, have babies. They stop being who you knew them to be. The notion of accepting you are not young anymore can be daunting. But The fact is, as I’m sitting here writing this, looking back on a really great week, thinking about how much fun that concert was and all the things I did right to experience these things, I smile. The fact is, I only miss the energy and sheer determination I had in my mid-twenties, the ability to obsess on one thing. I prefer older me, older me has the insight to appreciate his position in life. I think of sitting with my Dad and how far we’ve come in our ever changing relationship. I think of a 65 year old man on stage who gives the middle finger to old age every night for three hours. I think of things that I’m so happy that I got to see or experience and hope there is time for more. I think of the Bride singing the songs of her past to welcome her future. I think less about the things that are gone, and more about how lucky I am to have things that are still here.

Well, my feet they finally took root in the earth, But I got me a nice little place in the stars.
And I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car”

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer who isn’t always this sappy. Keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78

Theater Around The Bay: ON THE SPOT opens tonight!

OtS-coverphoto-WEB copy

35 artists, one tenacious prompt, 6 diverging plays, 7 rousing rehearsals, 4 glorious performances!

SF Theater Pub presents ON THE SPOT 2016, this March! Six playwrights, six directors, and twenty-five actors gather on March 12th to begin the process of creating six original plays, on the spot. Artists are randomly grouped into teams, and given a super secret prompt. This year our prompt is provided by an undercover well-known Bay Area theater artist, to be unmasked only after the plays have been written. Each team receives the same prompt. Teams circle up to discuss, and get to know each other. Ice-breaker questions will be provided to help ignite creative energy. After the meeting, playwrights head out into the late afternoon to write a play using the prompt, and using inspiration from their actors to tailor characters just for them. Plays are handed in the next day, March 13th, by noon. Teams have one week to fully produce their short plays, which open at PianoFight on March 21st at 8PM.

Our six playwrights have been selected. Congratulations Pat Morin, Bill Hyatt, Christine Keating, Charles Lerrigo, Madeline Puccioni, and Gabriel Leif Bellman!

35 artists, one tenacious prompt, 6 diverging plays, 5 rousing rehearsals, 4 glorious performances!

ON THE SPOT plays four performances at PIANOFIGHT (144 Taylor Street):

Monday, March 21 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, March 22 @ 8:00pm
Monday, March 28 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, March 29 @ 8:00pm

As always, admission is FREE, with a $10 donation suggested at the door. No reservations required, but we suggest getting there early to get a good seat and remember to show your appreciation to our hosts at the bar!

Come early to PIANOFIGHT to try out their great dinner menu!

See you at the Pub!